Monday, 28 December 2015

2016 Extreme season, do what you have always done, get what you have always got...

Its that time of year again, I have that restless, excited feeling and next seasons plans are coming together. I love it and cannot wait, even for the swimming pool timetable to get back to normal, honest! I remember this point last year, looking forward to Celtman and Norseman, not entirely sure I would make the start of the Norseman so soon after Celtman and be in any shape to race. Only way to answer that question was to try and it worked out just fine. It led to an amazing year of training, racing and learning, new friendships, experiences and opportunities. The bigger the challenge the richer the experience, that's certainly been true so far, guess there is no reason to stop now!

April training camp, Torridon, Photo courtesy of LakeDistrict Images
The past few months have seen a big change and rethink in my training, massive thanks to BlairDavies Coaching for this, if you are considering coaching for the coming season I cannot recommend him enough. The problem is if you keep doing the same things over and over again, the benefits and gains become less and less. We all know that but it takes a real leap of faith to move away from what we know and feel comfortable with, take a risk or two and allow ourselves to grow, which is what this is all about for me. 

Getting out of the comfort zone, a duathlon over in 40mins!

There in lies the amazing thing about a coach, it takes out the guess work and things really do change, if you want them to and are willing to commit. Blair took one look at my training and seasons race results, we talked and answer became clear. I had no top end, a one speed diesel engine that is in desperate need of super charging. Turns out its a great base to build on, all those hours riding/running long and slow up big hills every week had done a good job of this but the kick needed to be in the race at the end or take control was non existent. So the last few months and the early season race plan are all about that, super charging as Blair calls it. Its working but as with all good things it will take time, one thing is training feels fresh again. I love running fast, could not remember the last time I had done 60 sec intervals flat out, with 90secs rest! Yes, more time resting than running during a session, but I can assure you its needed! Increasing cadence has been a big point, economizing as much as possible so the speed gained can be carried through to longer races. Initially I worried about a loss in endurance due to less volume and duration but now I can see this will not be the case. We have simple removed the junk miles (I really understand what this means now!) and increased the quality of training whilst really working on weakness's.

I guess if you have any doubts on this strategy you could always ask Johann Hasslemark, winner of Celtman 2014 how he prepared for the race and set the course record.

Click here for a superb insight from the big man him self, I had seen this but have to admit I was not ready to listen or commit but that's ok, I think I am ready now.

Now this change does take a little sacrifice, I love running up big hills quite slowly, training in rough conditions and toughing it out for hours in the elements. This is a useful skill and has to be learnt like anything else but its what I have always done, so maybe I am good at it which makes it the easiest option. So my traditional approach to winter training this year will be very different, flipped on its head with the help and guidance of Blair and the inspiration from the big man from Sweden. I am currently trying my best to take an "I know nothing" (dodgy Spanish accent of course) approach and leave my comforts behind. This of course does not mean I cant occasionally head into the mountains for battle, recent trips to the high country or blasts out on the MTB have been all that much sweeter as a result, like a pilgrimage in a way :) Best thing is I seem to be traveling up the hills faster, a recent PB on my favorite local hill, despite very little hill running shows me this, maybe that coach does know what hes doing after all! Why no take a chance this season, change it up a bit, open the mind, it might make all the difference?

In the High Country, Dec 2015, LakeDistrict Images
If you are considering coaching, be sure to check out Blair, drop him a line or check out his website, he has a superb 2 week free trial option and offers a true 1/1, bespoke program looking at all aspects of training, recovery, nutrition and racing. 

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